So what can you do to help your dog through, not one, two or even three days of fireworks but often weeks of potential repetitive trauma?
Honey came to us at 4 years of age and we discovered that first firework season, just how terrified of them she was. So over the years we have learnt some good ways to minimise the impact of fireworks to help her recover more quickly if she does feel worried.
Firstly, we must state that any advice that tells you not to comfort or contact your dog when they show signs of anxiety, has been proven scientifically to be completely out of date. Please completely ignore such poor advice.
Here's our top tips:
- Comfort and support your dog as much as possible if they display any anxiety.
- Shut curtains and blinds to block out the visual effects of fireworks (which can be just as traumatic for some dogs).
- Find a 'den' like place for them to hide - our Honey chooses our wardrobe so we put her bed in there during this time.
- Keep their brain busy - stuff toys with food (if they are not exhibiting anxiety signs), play tug with them or do some creative dog tricks.
- Feed your dog early to avoid having to let them out for toileting once it is dark.
- If you do have to let your dog out in your garden always supervise them and keep them on a long lead.
- Exercise your dog sufficiently during daylight on a long line (in case there are any fireworks released early).
- Turn the volume up on your TV
- Play soothing music - reggae music has been found to be the most soothing to dogs with anxiety.
- Use an Adapter collar or plug in - releases calming pheromones.
- If your dog suffers severely discuss a medication plan with your vet.
- Use a Thunder Shirt or a Tellington Touch Body Bandage wrap
- Or wrap your dog in a blanket and hug them tightly during any fireworks
- Use a Happy Hoodie - a soft, expandable, comfortable band that is placed over your dogs ears to provide relief and protection from loud noises.
- If your dog starts to hyperventilate, hug your dog closely and breathe deeply and slowly and you may find your dog starts to regulate their breathing with you - Honey does.
- Speak to your neighbour to find out if and when they are going to left off fireworks and plan accordingly.
- Take your dog away in your car somewhere quieter, during the period your neighbour is letting off fireworks
- If your dog is severely affected then you may wish to plan holiday with your dog somewhere more isolated, during this period.
- Do not leave them unattended at home on their own, if possible, during this time.
- If your dog is severely affected by fireworks then consult with your vet about a medication plan for your dog during this time.
The most important thing to remember is that your dog is genuinely scared. The worst thing you can do is reprimand them for any anxious behaviour, laugh at them or ignore them completely. They need you, your understanding and your support as any sentient being does.